British and Irish Lions 2013: Christian Wade and Brad Barritt summoned from England's tour to Argentina

Concerns grow about the fitness of George North and Jamie Roberts

Sydney

Only a couple of Englishmen are expected to feature in the Lions team for next week’s First Test, but there will be no shortage watching from the sidelines.

Last night Christian Wade and Brad Barritt became the third and fourth players to be summoned from England’s tour to Argentina as concerns grow about the fitness of George North and Jamie Roberts.

Roberts, the one specialist inside-centre selected by head coach Warren Gatland, suffered what appeared to be a serious hamstring strain a dozen minutes from the end of a convincing 47-17 win over a highly physical New South Wales Waratahs team. With the Irish wing Tommy Bowe already out of the First Test with a busted hand, and the Welsh strike-runner North struggling with a hamstring problem, the tourists’ first-choice three-quarter line could be hard-hit.

Initial reports suggested Roberts had torn his hamstring, but Lions sources were quick to play down this diagnosis. There was a good deal of confusion. “The medics thought it was a hamstring injury,” reported Gatland, “but Jamie told them he’d never had that kind of injury and wasn’t sure.” Roberts recently qualified as a doctor. Perhaps orthopaedics are not his strong point. Roberts later tweeted “#Rice”, which stands for rest, ice, compression, elevation.

If the Welshman is ruled out of the Brisbane Test, the Lions would have to think long and hard about pairing his fellow countryman Jonathan Davies, one of the outstanding figures in this comprehensive win, with the former Lions captain Brian O’Driscoll in midfield. Whatever happens, the balance of the tourists’ back-line would change, and might even influence the Wallabies’ selection outside the scrum.

Gatland congratulated his players on their iron discipline in the face of some overt physicality from the Waratahs. “We’d spoken from the outset about our half-backs [Mike Phillips and Jonathan Sexton] being tackled late or hit off the ball, and we tried to communicate that to the officials through Sam Warburton [the Lions captain] on the field,” he said.

“It would have been so easy for someone to throw a punch after being taken late. If that had been picked up, there would have been a citing. Part of the game at this level is how you respond to the niggle. I thought the players were a credit to the shirt, because there was some provocation out there.”

The coach reacted rather cleverly to the first signs of a concerted Australian wind-up ahead of the Test series – newspaper comments by the former Wallaby coach Bob Dwyer about perceived Lions “cheating” at the scrum.

“I think it’s a sad indictment of the media world that someone like Bob is rolled out,” Gatland said, keen to make his point without engaging in the traditional “war of words” routine. “He deserves more respect, given what he’s achieved in the sport. I don’t think he knows much  about Twitter or Facebook, to be honest, and for him to be subjected to a tirade of abuse [on them]… I don’t think he deserves that.”

When asked about the implications of Davies’s fine performance yesterday, Gatland said he would have no issues playing him at inside-centre in the forthcoming Test in Brisbane. “It’s nice when you go into a dressing room and hear someone like Brian O’Driscoll say: ‘Man, how good was Jonathan Davies?’ ” he remarked.

All the same, the Lions could do without this latest injury hassle having already lost Gethin Jenkins and Cian Healy. Gatland and company took a risk in bringing so few career midfielders to Australia. The gamble is in danger of backfiring on them.

Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins wins the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Davidson performs his comedy show at Edinburgh Festival 2014
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor